Between rounds of layoffs and other uncomfortable business-happenings, it can be easy to feel down and out about your professional skills in 2020. Especially when it comes to the interpersonal side of conducting business. No one knows how to interact with each other in our current state of heightened tension. Studies have found the pressure is quite literally making us more awkward.
If you've been second-guessing everything you say to your colleagues or how you manage interactions with your direct reports — or heck, if you're an unemployed leader and going to interviews has made you second-guess your suave — you're not alone. It's an especially tough time to be managing people right now, which is why you deserve a pick-me-up. If you can say "yes" to any of these five things, you're a better manager than you think.
1. You value your direct reports as people, not just employees.
If you value your direct reports as people, not just employees, you're a better boss than some. But it's a sign you're a truly great manager if you take a genuine interest in getting to know your team, in understanding and incorporating their interests into their work, and in forging a path for their career aspirations.
2. You're willing to try new things.
If you foster an open, transparent work environment that's open to experimentation and trying out new ideas, it's a telltale sign you're a good manager. The best leaders know that ideas can come from anywhere — and understand that they can be wrong. Strong managers are up for the challenge of taking a risk or leaning away from the everyday.
3. You hold everyone (including yourself) accountable.
Weak managers are nice just to be nice. They keep the peace at all costs. Strong managers hold their teammates accountable not only for their job responsibilities, but for being a good teammate. If you hold everyone on your team accountable even when it's tough — and if you make sure you give your team as much respect and diligence as you expect from them — you're likely a great leader.
4. You don't have obvious favorites.
Playing favorites is a sign of a weak manager. It kills the morale of everyone but the star, diminishing productivity and innovation. A strong manager doesn't lean too heavily on any one person and allows everyone a chance to shine. This encourages all team members to put in their best effort and work to impress.
5. You sometimes think you're a bad manager.
Truly great leaders realize that good leadership doesn't come from a title or a concrete belief that they're "good" — it comes from constantly working to improve and be your best for your team. Someone who's always improving realizes their own faults and understands that they often falter. This can result in some moments of doubt or realizations that you really didn't handle something well. And guess what? That's perfectly OK. It means you're growing.